Two weeks, two days until my birthday.
Sunday morning at nine o’clock, I dialed the phone. I listened to the ringing on the other end, tapping my fingernails on my bedside table.
“‘ello,” Chay answered, his voice gravelly.
“Rise and shine,” I chirped.
“What time is it?” I could hear his blankets rustling through the phone.
“About an hour later than you let me sleep yesterday,” I told him.
“Don’t you know weekends are for sleeping in?” Chay asked.
“I want to see you.” I held out my hand and looked at my freshly painted fingernails.
“Isn’t that my line?” he said and yawned.
“Yeah, but it works both ways. I’ll pick you up in an hour.”
He laughed. “Okay, if I have to.”
“I can’t wait,” he said, and I grinned like an idiot.
An hour later, I rang the doorbell at Chay’s house. A pretty blonde answered the door.
“Hi, Milayna. Come in.”
“Hi, Mrs. Roberts.”
She wasn’t at all how I expected Chay’s mother to look. She was a pale blonde with fairer skin, and a few freckles dotting the bridge of her nose. He and his mother shared the same unusual eye color, though.
“Chay will be right out. Have a seat.” Mrs. Roberts perched on the arm of a chair and folded her hands in her lap. “You and Chay are in classes together?”
“Yes, ma’am. Three.”
“That’s great. You two seem to be getting along quite well.”
Smiling, I nodded. I could feel a blush fingering its way up my neck toward my face.
Nerves made my breakfast roll over in my stomach and play dead.
“So.” Mrs. Roberts smiled and slapped her palms on her thighs. “Do you want to see some baby photos?”
I almost laughed. I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. I mean, my mother liked to pull out the baby albums, but she at least waited until the third or fourth date.
“No, she does not.” Chay jogged into the room, wearing a pair of distressed jeans and a T-shirt that knew all the right places to hug him. “Hi.” He leaned over and kissed me.
When he lifted his head, I put my fingers to my lips and glanced quickly at his mother.
She didn’t seem the least bit concerned, but my face was burning.
“Oh, you embarrassed her.” Chay’s mom tsked and waved a hand at him. “Don’t worry,
Milayna, we know you kiss. It’s nothing to be embarrassed over.” She smiled and winked.
“But you’d embarrass me with baby photos.” Chay laughed.
“Of course. I’m your mother. That’s my right after twelve hours of labor and a nine-pound baby.”
Chay rolled his eyes and made a blah, blah, blah motion with his hand, but smiled at his mom. “Are you ready?” he asked me.
“Where are you two off to?” Mrs. Roberts looked between us.
“I don’t know. It’s Chay’s pick today. I picked yesterday.”
“Dear, let me tell you a little secret. Don’t let Chay pick. You’ll find yourself spending the day at the go-kart speedway.”
“That’s okay; he spent the day at the zoo with me.” I looked up at him and grinned like a moron.
“I’m just sayin’. I’d rather spend the day at the zoo than riding go-karts and picking gnats out of my teeth.” She shuddered.
I tilted my head to the side. “Huh. Good point.”
“Okay, see you when you get home.” She kissed him on the cheek and then patted it.
“I always do.”
She snorted a laugh. “It was nice meeting you, Milayna.”
“You, too, Mrs. Roberts.”
We walked outside, and Chay looked around. “Where’s your car?”
“My car isn’t in the best working condition. I was hoping you’d drive.”
“No problem. Wait, how’d you get here?”
“From your house? You walked around the block? Alone?” His voice rose with each syllable.
“Like my parents would ever let me do that. My dad drove me. I walked up the driveway alone.”
“Don’t do that!”
“What?” I could tell by his voice I’d upset him. Not the best way to start the day.
“Scare me like that.” He blew out a breath.
He interrupted my apology with a kiss. Not the chaste schoolboy kiss he gave me in front of his mother, but a long, wet, stomach-fluttering, kiss.
“Hasn’t your mother taught you not to interrupt?” I asked when he lifted his head.
“I think she mentioned something about it one day, but I interrupted her.” He grinned at me.
“Cheesy, Chay.” I smiled at him, and he shrugged a shoulder. “So, where are we going?”
“Wherever you tell me to drive.” He opened the car door for me.
“Oh, no. It’s your turn to pick.”
“And if I said I wanted to go fishing?”
“I’d say we’d need to go by my house so I could get my rod and fishing license,” I answered.
“Really?” He made a face.
“What? Girls can’t fish in your world?” I stowed my purse in the backseat.
“No, that’s great. I love that you’d go fishing with me. It’s just that you’re the only girl
I’ve dated that would.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” I slid into the car. He jogged around the back of the car and jumped in the driver’s side.
“What? Fishing?” He slid the key into the ignition.
“No. Dating.” I bit the corner of my bottom lip. My heart hammered in my chest as the seconds ticked by, and he didn’t answer.
“Hmm.” He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. “I—”
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